Geek Talk

Marvel Movies, Ranked by Accessibility

So I recently had the experience of watching a Marvel movie with someone who hasn’t seen any of the other Marvel movies. And the most experience they had with Marvel movies, in general, is the Spider-man movies. The first three. With the emo Spider-man.

Let’s just sum it up as “they struggled to follow the movie.”

It’s a really strange scenario for me, not just because Marvel is so pervasive right now that I kind of expect everyone to at least have a cursory familiarity with the MCU. I just…don’t hang out with people that don’t have at least a cursory familiarity with the MCU. That’s not saying those of you who haven’t seen any of these movies aren’t bad people, it’s just not likely that we have a lot in common because, well, I’m very geeky and this is like the pop culture face of geekdom right now and if you can’t handle the most popular stuff of geekdom then you’re probably not going to know anything that I actually watch or read or spend time with.

I mean, there’s a chance! She’d seen Jane the Virgin. I watch Jane the Virgin. We also both grew up near Amish country. But that’s literally where our commonalities ended. Though she was curious, which was encouraging. And her curiosity did get me thinking about the MCU a bit more critically – which of the movies are easiest for someone who has no familiarity?

This list is not going to be a watch order or a ranking of quality, just which movies I think are easiest to watch with someone who just doesn’t know anything about Marvel. There will, however, be spoilers for all the Marvel movies. Nothing too big for the most part, so if you’ve somehow still not seen Infinity War don’t worry. Just know I have to talk about the movies to explain why I ranked them the way I did so

Now, without further ado,

The Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ranked by Accessibility

19. Avengers: Infinity War

It can’t be any surprise that Infinity War is at the very bottom of this list. You literally need all the other movies to fully understand everything. It was literally built to be the ultimate tie-in that pulled everyone together – and the reward for all the viewers who’ve stuck with them these last ten years. They were only missing two characters being there physically, and they were both given a reason in-movie as to why they weren’t available for this one. And even that reason that harkened back to a previous movie.

About the only thing this movie doesn’t directly require is knowledge of S.H.E.I.L.D. (Until the end credits, but since those come at the end I’m not going to count them towards overall understandability for the movie.) I can also give it credit for finally being the movie that gave a solid explanation of the infinity stones.  Seriously, they were introduced in phase 1 but before this the best explanation I can think of was provided in Guardians of the Galaxy. And that one isn’t even particularly good. So, hey, at least they finally explained them in the movie where they’re one of the title characters. So while this movie is highly recommended, especially since it’s supposed to change everything from now on, it is not a good ‘just grabbing a superhero movie for the first time’ choice. Not even close.

18. Captain America: Civil War

So, it says Captain America in the title, but they really should’ve just named this one Avengers: Civil War. While it is missing Thor and Hulk (they get their moment in Ragnarok), everyone else is present. And also technically the Avengers don’t really exist after this movie ends. There’s like…two people left on the team at the end.  Still, this is also a culmination of all the development of the on-going characters that are in this movie up to the point of this movie’s release. Some of them didn’t have much before, like Wanda and Vision who had only appeared in Age of Ultron at this point, but this still builds upon where we left them (and if you missed Ultron then you missed both of them completely and if you missed them then you’re going to be lost for a whole actual subplot of this movie). Almost all of this movie will require prior knowledge of pretty much everything that came before, except Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor’s stand-alone movies.

17. The Avengers: Age of Ultron

You’ve probably noticed a pattern at this point. Group movies rank low. I probably don’t have to repeat myself, but this requires most of the movies that came before it. What’s unique about this movie, however, is that even people who are well familiar with the MCU up to this point may need to do some outside reading because it just pops in story-in-progress and barely explains itself. Sure, they mention that they’re mopping up the aftermath of the fall of S.H.E.I.L.D., but even I couldn’t follow the first ten minutes of the movie the first time I saw it. Though that’s more of a pacing and clarity issue than a familiarity issue.

From phase two, the only requirements for this one would be Captain America; The Winter Soldier (since this is dealing with the fallout from that movie) and Iron Man 3, though Iron Man 3 might not be 100% necessary, especially since they’ve already developed that Tony makes huge strides with his suit between every movie so the changes he makes here are just par for the course. This gets ranked lower, however, because you need Avengers, and for Avengers you’ll need the important movies that came before it. So while this is accessible if you’ve seen all of phase 1, you need to get through phase 1 first.

16. Thor: Ragnarok

I originally ranked this one fairly high when thinking about it as just a Thor movie, since you really only need Thor’s movies and maybe Avengers but Avengers isn’t absolutely required as long as you just know ‘Loki likes power’ because there aren’t really references to the first Avengers movie in it. But then I remembered that Hulk is half of this movie, and in regards to him you’ll need Avengers: Age of Ultron because they keep calling back to that movie. Doctor Strange also makes an appearance, though he isn’t an absolute necessity to understanding the movie. Thor doesn’t know him, so there is a bit of explaining on Thor’s part as far as visiting the sanctum is concerned. If you just accept ‘comic book movie’ that explains his powers as well as you’ll need in this particular movie’s context.

I rank it higher than Ultron despite technically needing more movies than Ultron because it’s easier to just watch and enjoy this movie without fully knowing everything. Even what you need to know from Ultron is partially addressed later in the movie. They set out to make a fun 80s inspired superhero film and that focus makes it much more accessible.

15. Spider-man: Homecoming
I really wanted to rank this one higher, but, in every version of this list, it just keeps shifting its way to the bottom. Even though Spider-man is one of the most iconic heroes (out of all heroes, the three most laypeople know are Batman, Superman, and Spider-man) and it baffles me how someone might not be at least familiar with him, this movie is filled to the brim with callbacks to past movies. Iron Man is in it (along with all of his feelings and anxieties that have developed over the films) and the entire crux of the antagonist is based entirely in the aftermath of the first Avengers film. So, despite Peter giving us a quick summary of his role in Civil War (and magically not having a bruise on his face despite totally being bruised up at the end of Civil War), you’d probably still need the rest of Civil War to fully appreciate Iron Man here. Just seeing Iron Man or even Iron Man 2 won’t cut it because Tony has been changed so much since then (and all of his appearances change him greatly). Even if you don’t care that much about Iron Man, it does enrich their relationship to know why he’s so hard on Peter. He’s not just picking on a rookie, he’s frustrated with his own failings and wants a better future and Peter is the future of superheroes so Peter has to be better.

In regards to the villain of the movie, I suppose you could get by just assuming ‘it’s the MCU, of course there were aliens in New York at some point, and of course someone had to clean that up.’

14. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The only absolute must-see for this movie is Captain America: The First Avenger, but S.H.E.I.L.D. is the main plot point in this movie so you’ll also have to be very familiar with them, which may actually require some outside reading (or viewing, since there’s the TV show) because the other movies don’t actually explain S.H.E.I.L.D. that well.

13. The Avengers

Technically, you need all of Phase 1. That is Iron Man, Hulk (2008), Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger. All the main players are introduced between these movies, including Black Widow (Iron Man 2) and Hawkeye (Thor), even though they some didn’t get their own movies. S.H.E.I.L.D. also plays an important role here, but they also do more to explain it here than they had previously. You might absolutely need the Iron Man movies if you don’t know who Nick Fury and Agent Coulson are and why they’re important. The main villain is from Thor, though most of what you need to know about that is explained in Avengers (Loki is Thor’s little brother and he craves power). The Tesseract from Captain America is important in this movie, but it wasn’t explained in Captain America any better than it’s explained here. It opens portals. That’s all we need to know. They also explain everything that you need to know about it in regards to Cap’s movie – it went into the sea and Howard Stark later fished it back up. As for Hulk, sure it’ll tell you Bruce Banner’s background but this is the most skippable, especially because they exposit his story in the first act of the movie. It’s almost like they expected everyone to forget that his movie ever happened.

Basically, phase one is most useful for getting to know all the key players and their powers so that when they suit up and assemble here you don’t need to learn what their abilities are. We’re already familiar.

12. Iron man 3

You need Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Avengers. This movie is all about Tony and his PTSD after those movies, and if you’re only in this franchise for Iron Man then you wouldn’t even need to watch any of the other phase one movies since Avengers was really good at expositing information. But you can’t skip any of Tony’s movies because this movie digs into his psyche. Though, that can pretty much sum up any movie that includes Iron Man. Of all the Avengers, he’s gotten the most light shone on his mental well-being.

11. Thor: Darkworld

You’ll need Thor and Avengers, and, as stated before, for Avengers you’ll need at least Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger. If you’re just watching for Thor and Loki and take everything else point blank as is who cares, you could probably get by with just Thor and Avengers, but you’ll definitely need Avengers since Loki was the main villain in that movie and this one takes place after that.

10. Iron Man 2

So, this movie came out before Captain America: Civil War, but I think this movie is better viewed after viewing that movie. Tony’s dad is an important part of this movie, even though he doesn’t get a lot of attention throughout the MCU (though he is a main character of Agent Carter if you want more Howard Stark shenanigans). Technically you don’t need that, technically you only need Iron Man for this movie. That’s why this movie came first after all. But I think it enriches the experience greatly. Plus, there are several Captain America references. Those were supposed to be Easter Eggs, but, for someone with no familiarity, these particular eggs are kind of…distracting.

Also, S.H.E.I.L.D. is of importance here, but it’s not explained any better than it was in the first film even though it has a more prominent role. S.H.E.I.L.D., in general, isn’t explained well by the movies, and it’s one of those things that you need to know and someone that doesn’t know might find off-putting because you’re just supposed to know but they don’t know. So, as with all S.H.E.I.L.D. appearances, outside research may be necessary for someone with zero knowledge of Marvel. I promise I’m not hating on S.H.E.I.L.D., but it just was not explained in the movies despite how important it is.

9. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2

You only need the first one for this since these guys are very separate from the rest of the MCU (until Infinity War). In fact, in some ways, this one is almost more accessible than their first outing. There are no infinity stones to worry about and the only prior knowledge you really absolutely need is that Star Lord’s mom died when he was a kid and a blue alien ‘kidnapped’ him. Oh, don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler for the first movie. That’s literally the first five minutes. Plus, this movie addresses it.

(Oh and for people wondering where the hell the Avengers were when Ego was doing his thing – they aren’t magic, they can’t just poof over to wherever that was. It has to be reported and they have to travel there and the actual attack didn’t last that long, guys. By the time they got there, they’d only be working clean up. Though I can see this being something that governments the world over start studying because, well, even now they don’t have an answer as to why the planet suddenly started killing them.)

8. Ant-Man

So Ant-Man is almost a total stand alone – as in you could almost watch it without any other MCU films or even outside research. Yet, as with many, you do require knowledge of S.H.E.I.L.D., Hydra, and knowing who Howard Stark is will certainly help you out. Avengers is mentioned, but they’re literally only named dropped (and a base is visited) so as long as you know they’re a group of superheroes that exist in this universe you are good on that front. Falcon, from the Captain America movies, is also at an Avengers base they visit during the movie, though you could also easily explain him. He’s a superhero guarding a superhero base. You don’t learn anything special about him or his past or his character. The thing with all of these points in general, though, is that they’re almost exclusively single scenes or quick references that flash by in a moment and not catching them won’t really affect the overall movie, though the bad guys are very ‘heil Hydra’ so that might be confusing if you don’t know what Hydra is.

7. Iron Man

Why is the first movie in the modern MCU not number 1? S.H.E.I.L.D., mostly. I’ve already explained how the movies handled this organization. However, it’s not particularly important to the plot. Mostly it’s a joke, as Agent Coulson keeps trying to set up a meeting with Tony. This all comes to a cumulation at the end of the film, and since this is the first of the MCU movies it wouldn’t be a bad thing to assume they’ll explain the organization better later on. They don’t, but someone who doesn’t know that could assume they will.

Besides that, there are other movies that are just easier to jump into.

6. Captain America: The First Avenger

I debated putting this at number one since it’s set before any of the other movies and therefore it can’t make any references to the other movies, but it does end in modern times with no explanation about the people who found him. There’s also a not at all explained Tesseract in it. Both of these issues can be glossed over, however, if you just assume that S.H.E.I.L.D. is some government organization and the Tesseract is just some Nazi weapon. Cap certainly makes those assumptions until he learns differently in later movies. Still, since we’re down to the nitpickier movies, those details are enough to drop this a little.

5. Thor

They mention Iron Man in this movie, so if you haven’t seen Iron Man or even heard of Iron Man, that might be a bit weird. Also, Agent Coulson, who was introduced in the Iron Man movies and plays a bigger role later on, pops up here. Other than that, everything else in this movie can just be taken as is. You could even just assume that Agent Coulson is part of the government sticking its nose in something. Which, technically he is. There may be things that are confusing in general because they just didn’t explain it that well, but watching other movies won’t help in that regard.

4. Black Panther

So, this movie came after Civil War and is about a hero that was introduced in Civil War and starts with a villain that was first introduced in Age of Ultron and Wakanda’s vibranium has been popping up already in the MCU. And none of that really matters for the watching of this film. I had totally forgotten about Klaue being in Ultron (his role in Ultron is minuscule anyway), and while this movie is consistent with his appearance there, it also explains all you need to know. He stole vibranium.

Civil War’s information is also sufficiently recapped with a flashback and T’Challa’s, well, everything. As a bonus, there’s no infinity stones or other heroes you’ll need to know about and S.H.E.I.L.D. has no importance. There’s one American government agent, but he explains himself and his purpose just fine. The main reason that this isn’t ranked higher is because other MCU movies could enrich the experience, but not seeing them first certainly won’t hinder it.

3. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 1

In terms of the overall MCU up to the point this movie came out, this movie is completely detached from the rest of the MCU. The Gaurdians don’t even interact with any characters from Earth until Infinity War. If you were doing a watch of ‘must see’ movies, this would definitely be on it because a lot of points start taking shape in this movie. Sure, the Infinity Stones and Thanos were introduced earlier, but…it was in passing, and not explained. Because the characters on Earth don’t know about that stuff. This movie actually actively deals with an Infinity Stone, attempts to explain them, and it gives us Thanos’ daughters which in turn lets us know more about Thanos. But this isn’t a list of absolute must sees, it’s a list of ‘who’s the most accessible MCU hero(es).’ And these guys are definitely highly accessible. Plus, lots of fun. I doesn’t quite make it to number one because some outside research may be required, depending on how take-it-at-face-value the person you’re watching it with is.

2. The Incredible Hulk, 2008
Did you know there was a Hulk movie that’s actually considered to be part of the MCU? I remember rolling my eyes when I heard they were releasing one and not going to see it because literally there had just been a Hulk movie a few years earlier. It made no sense to me. And I also forgot about it entirely until I was looking up a list of all MCU movies to make sure I didn’t miss anyone for this list. I first saw this movie this year. And…well, it’s skippable. There isn’t a single thing about this movie that is needed to see later movies. But that also works to its advantage on this list because it also doesn’t really require any other knowledge to watch. We don’t get Hulk’s origin in the movie proper, but the opening credits show us the whole thing.

There is a passing one-line reference to S.H.E.I.L.D., which has no bearing on the film, and Iron Man pops up at the end, but he also has no bearing on the plot. His presence was just to establish that they were making a fully fleshed out cinematic universe. Ah how times have changed.

And, lastly, if you’ve been ticking off movies so far you’ve probably figured out my pick already but it feels important to set it apart because it’s my number one and number ones are always special, right? So, here’s my number one:

1. Doctor Strange
Yes, this is a phase three movie. Yes, there is an Infinity Stone in this movie. Neither of those points matter. Sure, they call the Eye an Infinity Stone…at the end, after the entire story has passed, and by that point it just seems like teasing for another movie (and, technically, it is). Aside from one namedrop of the Avengers, this movie is entirely separate from the rest of the MCU. They don’t even mention S.H.E.I.L.D.! Granted, that’s probably because S.H.E.I.L.D. had just fallen to pieces and wasn’t a power anymore, but that’s kind of a big deal since S.H.E.I.L.D. dropped a lot of other movies to lower spots on the list. This movie establishes and explains all it’s details as much as you need it to, as long as you don’t start asking where their powers come from. It’s magic, guys. Science-y magic. It probably comes from within or something.

***

As for our next upcoming movie, Ant-Man and the Wasp, well, it’s factoring in Civil War so already that means it’s probably going to rank in the bottom half. But, hey, maybe it’ll explain his role as well as Black Panther handled T’Challa’s. He wasn’t exactly a big part of the film after all. Still, I’ve also heard that this is going to be important for the next Avengers movie in 2019, and I’m not sure how it can do that without at least addressing Infinity War, which could drop it really far down the list.

I mostly just can’t wait to see Evangeline Lilly as the Wasp. And, really, to see her mom either, since we know she’s coming in. I hope they give her more respect than certain cartoons did. Seriously, I swear, Wasp was just the damsel of uselessness in Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

Advertisements
Geek Talk · Rambles

What’s all this garbage about Rose Tico being worse than Jar Jar?


Apparently, Rose’s haters think she’s worse than Jar Jar…because they don’t like her. Or, well, because they think she was useless to the plot.

Now, I don’t make a habit of prodding through the rants of the toxic people that used to be fans of Star Wars (I think it’s safe to say used to be since so many of them have decided they are no longer supporting the franchise after The Last Jedi), but with what happened to Rose’s actress recently, I found myself curious to see how the actual conservative fans of Star Wars were feeling.

The long and short of it is that most didn’t really care about Rose (other than her cheesy dialogue) and heaped most of their hate on Admiral Holdor because she’s clearly a purple haired feminist “icon.” (Though I don’t know any feminists who actually liked her that much considering she mommed the mission into failure.) It was refreshing, and a huge relief, to see a lot of them also condemn the behavior of the people who will no doubt become their face for years to come. Anyway, in combing through the dirty backside of the internet, I came across a debate that, well, makes no sense to me:

People were debating if Rose Tico was worse than Jar Jar Binks.

Now, I could waste some of my free storage space to link a picture of Jar Jar for everyone, but I don’t need to deal with those nightmares. So I won’t.

I had been aware that people were worried the porgs would be like Ewoks or Jar Jar, and, apparently, some people still felt that way because clearly anything that exists just to sell toys must be pure evil. But after the movie ended and most people agreed ‘yeah, they were alright’ I thought the ‘what will be the next Jar Jar’ discussion had been settled with ‘nothing could be worse than Jar Jar.’

(For anyone who questions this: porgs get less than 5 minutes of screen time, do not interfere with the plot in any way, and have adorable designs. They enrich the world they exist in like the swamp creatures enrich Dagobah and they give Chewie something to do besides standing creepily in a corner. They’re fine. They don’t even come close to Ewoks. Plus, their toys are actually cute.)

It seems that a subset of now anti-fans have decided that because they don’t like Rose, she is the new Jar Jar. Well, they define it as her being entirely useless. Which, I can get. She could easily have been replaced in this film with another character, or not been there at all. I read somewhere that it was originally supposed to be a Poe and Finn mission, but the writers decided the boys got on too well (which totally had nothing to do with the popularity of their slash ship I’m sure) and decided to split them up with foils. Those became Rose and Admiral Holdor. I don’t know if this is true, but I do wish we’d gotten the original story without the two ladies. Not that I dislike Rose, I’m glad we have her. (And I’m glad Holdor will not be returning, though, again, I don’t hate her.) Poe and Finn just work really well together and I think their subplots would’ve been less, well, boring, if they’d been together.

There was also the argument that her cheesy dialogue might be worse and I can’t even finish that sentence. Jar Jar’s dialogue was purposefully infantile to attempt to get a cheap laugh. As Qui-Gon put it, ‘the ability to speak does not make [one] intelligent.’ Jar Jar can barely function. But that’s not why I hate him. If he was merely dumb and useless, that would be one thing.

Jar Jar Binks actively destroyed the plot of the prequel trilogy. There’s a reason the Sith Lord Jar Jar theory is so popular, and that’s because it’s believable on pretty much every level. In Attack of the Clones, Jar Jar granted emergency powers to Palpatine. With those powers, Palpatine easily formed the Empire.

Rose is better than him because, at worst, she’s useless to the overall story. I’d even say she has a slightly positive impact since she encourages Finn to actually commit to being a rebel without doing some huge thing that causes things to fall apart. Sure, some stuff she does doesn’t make sense and other stuff can be very cheesy, and apparently saving the animals is some huge liberal propaganda moment (though if a pro-animal abuse stance is the ship you want to go down on, there are a lot bigger problems at work here). Overall, Rose has no negative effect on the rebels or the cause. In fact, when you’re severely outnumbered (like, millions to a couple dozen outnumbered), having a cheesy cheerleader can be really beneficial at keeping people focused on the cause and not ready to just jump out a space hatch because all hope is lost forever.

I like her gusto, but overall, I’m lukewarm on Rose. Which is a far cry better than how I feel about Jar Jar.

For full disclosure, I should also note that I’m withholding final judgement on The Last Jedi until we see the pay off of the next film since most of what happened in this movie was set up for what, I hope, is to come. If they just chuck everything that this movie set up out the window like The Last Jedi chucked a lot of what The Force Awakens set up, I’m not going to be pleased. But, for now, I’m kind of lukewarm on pretty much everything. Except BB-8. BB-8 is my favorite droid and I love it. Oh, well, I also don’t hate porgs. Clearly. They’re adorable and I want one.

As for Solo, I didn’t go see it because I’d just spent all my movie budget on Infinity War and Deadpool 2. Plus, of all the concepts I’ve seen pitched, Solo has the least draw. We already know who Han becomes, we know where his life goes, and, at this point, we also already know how he dies. It could be a really fun movie (though I’ve seen that they obsessed over telling ‘this is how Han got/became ___’ mini-stories in the movie) but when choosing between which of the three big movies that dropped to go see, I had to go see the more important ones. I think it failed for all those reasons, and not because the anti-fans got their way (though it is funny to see them celebrate the failure of a movie that’s basically everything they wanted). If Solo had been released in December, I would’ve gone to see it. It just wasn’t that important to go see it right now. I will also grant there may be a little fatigue — while I’d readily go see three Marvel movies in one year, they’re all about very different characters and aspects of that universe and they give us vastly different settings.

Star Wars, sure, gives us tons of different planets, but they’re all one-hat planets (all ice, or all desert, or all rainforest) and there’s only two types of ships: the polished Empire type ships, and the more janky everyman and rebel ships. Woo. Plus, every movie has dealt with the same war, to one extent or another (the prequels show us how it started, Rogue One shows us the beginning of its’ downfall, Solo shows us some of life during the war for non-rebels, the originals showed us the actual downfall, and the new trio is showing it’s aftermath).

Marvel movies mostly take place on one planet and still manage to make most movies feel like they’re taking place worlds apart. Black Panther’s Wakanda is different from Spiderman’s NYC is different from Iron Man’s rich man life is different from…well, you get the idea. Even Avengers NYC feels different from Spiderman’s NYC. Even if they all end the same way (heroes win, villains lose – Infinity War notwithstanding), there’s different villains and different stories and different personalities and there’s freaking color. Sorry, but the bright colors of the MCU really do count for a lot in a world where movies seem to be competeing to be the most visually bland thing to date. It’s not ‘realistic’ to be washed out. Star Wars is good on that front, too, because the colors, while mostly whites, blacks, and browns (with some oranges), are at least very bright. It’s just more interesting on the eyes, and for the mind, to have variation.

Rambles

On the sad state of romance in the MCU, and why I’m still holding out hope.

So, I never really thought about the state of everyone’s love lives in the MCU…until I started seeing a bunch of articles ranking couples and found out that I had a very strong reaction to those lists. The was even at least one rebuttal article fighting for the much, much stronger non-romantic relationships. Well, not officially romantic. I’ve noticed the way Cap looks at Bucky too, you know.

3dc49a7a-dfd6-412c-81d9-f04934636651
And by ‘how he looks at Bucky’ I mean ‘with actual emotions.’ Or with literally any emotion.  MCU Cap and Sharon just have no chemistry…not to mention epic levels of ick.

In all honesty, I don’t really ship most official MCU couples. I’m not a huge shipper in general because ships in movies tend to just flat out stink (even, and sometimes especially, in movies that are specifically romances). So usually I just, well, ignore that stuff. It is what it is, it does what it does, and 90% of the time it’s fine enough as something that just happens in all movies (because gods and goddesses forbid we have a movie that doesn’t have romance shoehorned in somewhere).

That’s not to say I’m not a shipper and I don’t enjoy any romances. I’ve just come to expect that 95% of all romance in movies and on TV is going to be just ok at best because, well, they are. Most romance exists because it was mandated or because it’s just expected. Hero swings hammer a few times, gets girl. Though I can’t blame Jane for that one. If Chris Hemsworth came in all Thor-ing around near me I’d probably swoon at first, too. Still, the best thing to happen to MCU Thor and Jane is that Jane dumped Thor. Jane definitely had potential, but it was squandered in just painting by the same boring numbers that most romances follow. Hero heroes, gets girl. Girl is then the worst part of the sequel because the writer’s don’t know what to do with her because she only existed to be a love interest instead of as her own character. Sure, she had traits. She had a job. She was, technically, a person, with or without Thor. But as a character she only existed to be a love interest.

That tends to be the biggest and easiest line to draw. Does the character serve any other purpose to the story? If no, then the romance isn’t going to turn out well. Ok, it might turn out ok in the movie, but odds are very good it’s going to be boring. Characters that only exist to be a romantic interest are boring. Even actual romances understand this. Well, the good ones do.

Take Pepper. She’s Tony’s love interest, but she’s also starts off as his handler and later becomes the CEO of his company. In both of these positions, she’s shown to have a life beyond Tony. When he misbehaves, she kicks him out of her office. Her office as the CEO of company that bears his name. She’s also a voice of reason (that he doesn’t listen to, and ends up in bad situations because of it).

In Iron Man, I wasn’t on board with their relationship. But by the end of Iron Man 3, I was. What changed in between was Pepper becoming a character in her own rights.

Now, that isn’t to say someone who exists as just a love interest can’t be interesting. Clint’s wife barely even has any lines, but they have three kids to prove their love. She exists literally only to give Clint’s pretty much unaddressed self another dimension – in this case, a family. Perhaps it’s because the movies give us so little on him in general, but she’s interesting because she’s the wife of an Avenger. The wife that he kept hidden from literally everyone, save from the ones from S.H.E.I.L.D. who set them up with their little hide-away. I have so many questions about their family because they gave a very under-utilized character another aspect, but they also weren’t so over used.

For the other half of the under-utilized Avengers, the best thing to happen to Nat in the romantic realm was the ‘this is awkward’ line from Sam. I don’t see a lot of people discussing that line, but I immediately assumed that it meant Nat was dating Sam now. Apparently that might not be the case. Granted, that sweet sadness of the recording on the Quinjet made me at least not hate the possibility of Bruce and Nat. And they do both have pasts they want to put behind them. Well, Bruce has a second half he want(ed) to put behind him. I can dig that. It wasn’t well executed in the MCU, but I can dig it.

What I can’t dig, or forgive, is Sharon. I don’t hate Sharon. She’s a decent character. But why the hell did the writers have to make her kiss Steve. Two days (maybe a few more, maybe even less) after Peggy died. I don’t even care that she’s Peggy’s niece and that’s a layer of discomfort. What makes me mad is that it was two days after she died. Have some freaking respect!

There’s actually a ton about Steve and Sharon that makes me mad, beyond just the sheer disrespect of the scene. The lack of chemistry (though I’m sure the actors tried), and they lack any kind of development. These two are the epitome of ‘we did it because it’s comic canon.’ These two brought Civil War to a screeching, painful halt for a second. That kiss also screamed of desperation. Since, you know, Steve x Bucky is probably the most popular ship of the fandom.

 

infinity-war-tv-spot-1
I would give anything for someone that looks at me the way Bucky and Steve look at each other.

There’s a reason for that, and it’s not because there’s no one better to ship Steve with. Well, in the MCU there kind of isn’t (and for all you Steve x Tony or whoever else shippers, I only mean canonically to the movies). But beyond that, Steve and Bucky have probably the best relationship, in canon, of pretty much everyone I can think of off the top of my head. There’s a lot of characters and a lot of combinations, but they’re the first one that comes to mind when I think ‘what relationship do I want in my life?’ I’m talking all kinds of relationships.

Steve literally gave up his entire persona for Bucky. Now, given that Steve is the epitome of a boy scout that’s not really that big of a deal, but he did break with his friends, risked the trust of the world, and become a criminal (in more ways than just not signing those accords – he harbored and fought for a wanted ‘ciminal’ after all). For Bucky. If it had been most other people, I’m sure he would’ve at least tried to find another option, but given Bucky’s history there really wasn’t a choice. And Bucky was worth that sacrifice. On the flip side, Bucky cared so much for Steve that their friendship shook him from his brainwashing. They are also both men out of time – that is, men who were born in one era then ‘woken up’ in another one. No one else alive can relate to them the way they can relate to each other.

Now take all of that and put it in the hands of passionate fans who aren’t being pushed and pulled and prodded to try and maximize profits. They also don’t have a time limit, not that they’d need one. When the muse hits, it’s easy to write. Anyone who’s ever gotten lost in their writing is familiar with that. And these two offer a lot to convince the muses to pay the fans a visit. Every time they’re on screen together there’s new material to add to the angsty love-fest.

Is it any wonder that they’re the OTP of the MCU?

I know, because Marvel is obsessed with that Chinese money, they’re never going to give us something as blatent as Captain America dating a man in the movies proper. And…I kind of don’t want them to. Especially since we’re very likely at the end of Steve Rogers. He’s consistently being pegged as most likely to die before the adventures with the infinity stones are over. Or to finish things. Whichever comes first.

Despite the sadness of the first era of the Avengers coming to a close, I do have a lot of hope for the future. They’ve been trying new things in their most recent phase, and I’ve liked everything except Sharon. That’s because all the relationships have been beginnings. They’ve taken the time to establish friendship and comraderie between the characters, like Steve and Bucky have. Well, not nearly as deep, but I’m a lot more ready for Peter and MJ (c’mon, there’s no way that’s not happening) than I would’ve been if they’d just been smashed together. And Peter and Liz was such a believable crush, not to mention great development for him. He chose his duty over his teenage boyness.

Then we have Black Panther. T’Challa and Nakia didn’t get a lot of development as a pairing, but they did get a lot of development as people.

There’s also probably my favorite one, because I didn’t see it as a ship at all. It makes it onto most rankings and there’s even a whole article welcoming the lovely lady into the ‘MCU Romantic Interest club,’ but…I saw it as just a really amazing friendship. That used to be a relationship. I’m talking about. Doctor Stephen Strange and Christine. In the movie, there is never motions towards a relationship, there is no forced lip kissing (though there is some very believable hugging and one cheek kiss), and Infinity War seems to show that Strange is kind of too busy, or at least too caught up with his new job, for a relationship of that sort.

I love it. I know a lot of people didn’t see it that way because they’re conditioned to see the female character beside the leading male as his romantic interest, but I truly hope that they’re just kept as good friends in any future movies he gets to be in. I also hope we get to see her again. She’s kind of an everyday hero and it’s good to get a few of those inbetween all the super world-saving sorts.

Or, well, there’s also the galaxy saving sorts.

Don’t think I’ve forgotten our inter-galactic planet-defeating guardians. There’s only one relationship there, and there’s a reason I saved it for last.

Peter Quill and Gamora are my favorite couple out of all the canon MCU relationships. Why? Because Peter Quill doesn’t just ‘get the girl’ for saving the day. He’s a bratty manchild and he has a long way to go (and he’s also come a long way since his first appearance, let’s give him credit where it’s due), and that’s one of the biggest turn offs in the known universe. But Gamora loves him. He, along with the rest of the Guardians, are her found family. The beings that actually, truly love her, and not in the abusive way that Thanos loved her.

 

guardians-of-the-galaxy-star-lord-gamora-wallpaper-230201-1280x0jpg

The Guardians movies did an amazing job of building these two up for the inevitable I love you point. Then Infinity War went and burst the bubble and it felt waaaaay too soon.

In retrospect, I don’t mind it. It happened in the scene where Gamora was begging Peter to kill her after all. And he agreed.

So, yeah. They’re still my faves. Infinity War and all.

Granted, that could change, depending on where the MCU goes from here. Is anyone else rooting for Peter (Parker) and Shuri or is that just me? (Did anyone else find out Shuri was supposed to be a teenager after seeing Black Panther, or was that just me too?)

 

Geek Talk

The Emotions of Thor

I’ve seen some complaints about Thor and how he handles emotions. Or rather, how he doesn’t. In Ragnarok, he loses his father, finds out he has a murderous sister, ends up as a gladiatorial fight slave on a strange planet, and to top it all off it’s been at least several days when he wakes up and for all he knows that evil sister of his has murdered his people (who he is now king of, even if he hasn’t been crowned, because his dad is dead, and his loser self is now a fighting slave on a foreign planet). And he doesn’t even take a second to mourn. Not one moment. Well, he has a line with Bruce. A single line. Then he moves on with his life.

So here’s the thing. They did try to address his emotions in Ragnarok. Take a peek (it’s the very first thing in the video):

It didn’t work.

Ok, you may have liked it, I dunno. But their attempts didn’t work for me. They didn’t have to be so blunt, sure, a few extra sad faces would’ve probably made the point just as well, but. But but but.

Now that Infinity War is out, holy crap Thor’s emotional arc has become a highlight for me. If they keep this rolling into the next movie (which, from what I understand, could be his last), he might just be my absolute favorite of the original Avengers.

redwoodriver-thegestianpoet-thegestianpoet-i-cant-believe-thor-wearing-arm-guards-30347939
Thor mourns, just not in ways we’re used to. And given how Thor is,

See, while it’s true all of those events happened, there’s also the part where Thor was literally thrown into gladiatorial battle very quickly after losing his dad and his hammer and losing track of his sister. We get to see him frustrated with everything going on, but he doesn’t have time to be sad. He has to get out of there.

Then, he’s given a moment for an emotional reprise when finding out that he’s going to be fighting his friend. Then his friend thrashes him.  Nothing slows down after that point. Just as he never takes a moment to mourn, the world around him doesn’t take a moment to let him mourn. Sure, there are some happy-ish moments. He saves his people, he’s crowned king. He and his brother get to be brothers, even if he still can’t trust Loki – it’s not like Loki can really do much or go anywhere on their transport ship. So he does get a moment of peace there, I suppose. And we technically don’t know what happens during the whole time on the ship. Even if it’s a short amount of time. Maybe he and Loki did have a bit of mourning.

Of course, that’s off-screen stuff. Off-screen stuff doesn’t count unless it’s at least referenced, and there was no reference of mourning.

But then we got Infinity War and, of all Marvel characters, Thor opened up and became emotionally vulnerable with Rocket. Rocket the potty-mouthed body-part-stealing gun-happy raccoon. It’s probably no coincidence that this was also his first actual quiet moment with literally nothing else pressing. It was in that moment that I realized a bit of brilliance, whether it be on purpose or accident.

Thor has, in many ways, been the epitome of, well, as Drax put it – a young man. In his first movie, he was brash, he thought he knew best about everything, and the only emotions he really got to display were anger and joy. Even when he was exiled for his bad behavior, he continued behaving poorly for a time. Even though he grew past his jock phase and developed into a leader, he never developed emotionally. It didn’t particularly suit him, especially given his upbringing.

When I watched Ragnarok, I didn’t feel that emotional hole everyone else felt. I live in a world where men are pretty much expected not to mourn or be sad. (There’s plenty to say about how women aren’t technically expected to be that way, but if they want to be taken seriously they have to act like that, and Valkyrie sort of embodies the female side of things, but this isn’t about her. This is about Thor.) A crying man is supposed to be something special. A rarity. Not that Thor had to cry to be sad. But he just didn’t have the time for that. Very literally.

And as soon as he did have a moment, it leaked out.

And Rocket was there to pick up the pieces.

Go Rocket.

 

Geek Talk

Why are the Star Wars Fanboys Being so Toxic?

With Solo bombing at the box office (it actually didn’t do that badly, considering when they released it, but it performed a lot more poorly than the studio wanted and lost money so that’s not good), it seems that a certain sort of angry fans have popped back up. Well, some of them have been simmering under the surface since the last movie but they now have something new to rage over. Oh, and they drove Rose Tico’s actor off of social media. Because they didn’t like Rose Tico. And apparently, that means it’s appropriate to abuse and harass the actress that played her.

(Pro tip for best fandom behavior: disliking something is fine, as is disagreeing with the creators or fellow fans. Discussing your dislike and disagreements are fine. Even dissent, such as boycotting or leaving bad reviews, are fine. Actively harassing the people who made the product in question is not fine. Grow the fuck up you sniveling leaky diapers.)

So, the gist of what I’ve been able to gather is that people are mad that The Last Jedi had some sort of secret political agenda, specifically one of a liberal nature, and this is why they and other people (who they are speaking on the behalf of because that’s how we do) either tired of the franchise or outright boycotting it. Even main news channels reported on how political TLJ was…well, in its titles at least.

Now, when I watched it I didn’t notice any messages that were that particularly different from the usual ‘Nazis are bad, don’t abuse people’ stuff that most Star Wars movies have been about at this point. There’s also the idolization of rebels (not that these rebels are wrong, but rebels aren’t always right-see the Islamic State for an example of how rebels can go wrong). The people with the Storm Troopers have been the main power in their galaxy and as such have been the bad guys since Episode III. (Technically IV, since III came out later, but story-chronological-wise, Episode III.)

I guess there was an anti-animal abuse message? Is that it?

I know that’s not it. Most of the negative talk tends to center around certain things. Luke died, and his last outing was extremely, well, ungraceful for him, to put it as nicely as I can think to put it.

 

Leia flew through space. That happened. In retrospect, I really don’t mind that scene nearly as much as I did in the moment. In the theater, the audience laughed, but with how regal she was I just can’t help but appreciate it. The trip to the casino ground the movie to a halt with just how pointless it was. Gotta love that kid already using the force with no training though. Mary Sue alert, am I right?

Sorry. I’m really just beating around the bush right now.

Honestly, I’ve been struggling to write this because I’ve been struggling to figure out what ‘liberal agenda’ The Last Jedi had besides multiple different women speak lines. Sometimes to each other. About sometimes it was even about things other than men. And that’s not my interpretation, that’s literally the only new ‘political agenda’ I’ve really seen discussed. Even that CNN article I linked above only recapped the story, noted the animal-abuse theme, and mentioned that there are women and minorities in this movie. Most of the political discussion in that article was about how the prequel trilogy was a jab at George Bush Jr.

I struggled to find anything else, aside from a few arguments that I thought might be trolls but apparently at least some people took seriously. Like how there was totally a vegetarianism message. Oh, yeah, apparently that wasn’t a joke. In general, there were a lot of vague platitudes, people talking about the ‘social agenda’ and the ‘social politics’ of TLJ. Oh, and a lot of liberal-leaning articles assessing all this. Because it wouldn’t be the modern world if the echo chambers weren’t screaming at their idea of each other. Or, rather, the actual extreme version of each other, since Star Wars apparently has alt-right fans who don’t like being told they’re the bad guys. Here’s a hint: If you’re a Nazi, you’re the bad guy.

So, that women factor. There was definitely a strong and proud vein of people who were upset about there being women. The hate for Finn wasn’t even that loud in comparison to those who hate Rose, Rey, and Admiral Holdo.

It should also be noted that those are all new women. Leia gets a pass as a character with most people being mad at the writers for her casual fly through the vacuum of space as opposed to hating her directly. Meanwhile, Female-Luke aka Rey gets called a Mary Sue, Rose Tico is compared to Jar-Jar, and both women are driven from social media by fanboys who can’t function.

First, both of those comparisons aren’t accurate. Rey is almost beat-for-beat the same as Luke, just with the advantage of growing up knowing what Jedi are and Jar-Jar? Seriously?! Jar-Jar was a destructive, obnoxious moron who’s driven by his own stupidity. (Unless you subscribe to the Jar-Jar is a Sith theory-I’m very on board with that theory and wish we’d gotten that.)

There’s also the complaint that there were no white men leading on the side of the good guys (apparently Luke doesn’t count because he was too grouchy). Yeah, cos being the lead of literally most of the movies ever made isn’t good enough. Sorry, is that too feminist of me? Here let me bottle those white boy tears for my voo doo woman spells. It’s hard to feel for whiney boys that have literally been catered to and coddled for centuries.

The worst part of all of this is that most people seem to be in agreement on the films:

They’re kind of a mess. In many ways they’re definitely better than the prequels but at least the prequels understood how oppressive regimes work. Sure it was kind of boring to watch but at least it was also kind of decently accurate. In the new movies, the not-Empire that acquired the Storm Troopers is doing the exact same thing the Empire was doing. Times ten. Because of drama.

The Last Jedi wasn’t a great movie. It was far from being the worst thing I’ve ever seen, but it wasn’t great. Its value is definitely going to be determined by how the creators of the next film handle what the creators of this film did. There were definitely seeds planted here that could make for an interesting conclusion. That has nothing to do with any kind of social commentary.

Before I get too off topic on all the issues I had (let’s just say that there’s a reason I don’t defend Admiral Holdo), can we just…stop with the toxic fandoms? What’s happening with Star Wars happens in every fandom to some extent. Some are more hostile than others, and some get handled better than others. Right now, the Star Wars fandom needs to step up and handle these toxic fanboys. They at least need to learn how to complain about something without destroying peoples’ lives.

Geek Talk

Let’s take a peek inside Deadpool’s fridge.

 So, we need to talk about Vanessa. Needless to say, there will be spoilers for Deadpool 2.

Deadpool is, well, among many things, usually pretty good at lampooning bad tropes. And that’s exactly what I thought was going to happen as the movie’s opening credits started playing with a dead-serious Celine Dion number and a James Bond-esque montage.

In case you’ve missed it, here’s the music video:

The design of the opening credits definitely matched the feeling of the song. When Celine says she only goes to eleven, well, apparently that meant for the credits too. Nothing was phoned in.

So, up to this point, I was on board with everything that was going on with Vanessa. Her obvious fridging, how they were playing it so painfully straight that the audience was stunned for a moment before they fell apart with laughter when the credits took jabs at the writers. And ohhh that song. Good call, there, going for the award bait. I’d actually love if Ashes got some kind of award because it was just perfectly discomfortingly hilariously great. They also brought her back at the end, kind of pissing all over the rest of the movie, and that was nice, I suppose, if a bit too much like the whole ‘it was all just a dream’ cop out that infuriates just about everyone.

But then…for the rest of the movie that came in-between, Vanessa’s story was just par for the course. Blasé. Basic.

Sure, the not-Vanessa parts of the story were really just amazing, and her being gone let Wade develop an actual emotional connection with Cable. I liked that little bond they had. It’s hard to bond with Wade after all. He’s kind of an ass. But…there’s still that whole problem with Vanessa.

Now, I’m not mad that they went there, though, as many have pointed out, they could easily have written the same story without killing her. Sure, the emotions would’ve been a bit less ‘I just want to die please,’ but that could’ve made the movie stronger too – they could’ve even gone for a ‘please come back alive/please don’t die’ thing, depending on which collar-time you go with, because Vanessa wants him alive even if no one else does, which is an entirely different type of trope that dips in to the deep wells of sappiness. Not to mention how great she would’ve been at helping with the recruiting process for X-Force. But, before I digress into a fanfic on you –

What actually happened in the movie, and especially what the writers and director added in interviews afterwards, is just a steaming pile of laziness.

Fridging is a bad thing because it treats people, most often love interests, who are almost always women, as an object instead of a person, and the responses to the controversy have just continued to prove that point. For a topical example of this, in a recent interview, director David Leitch completely unironically said that Vanessa is the ‘vehicle that [Deadpool] learns from’ in this movie. I know that sounds nitpicky since he was really just using a common colloquialism in American culture, but in an interview where the topic of conversation is a trope that literally treats women as objects, you might not want to refer to the woman in question as an object. Think before you speak is also a popular saying, and I think it suits these men just fine right about now.

Fridging is also the epitome of laziness. Don’t know what to do with a character? Kill them to motivate your lead. That solves two problems with one penstroke. You get rid of someone you can’t handle and you push forward the character you’re really interested in writing. It’s the easiest way to do this, which also means it’s super common because there are a lot of writers who don’t want to try something else. They want to get on with the story of their lead, and it’s even better now because that lead has extra motivation. It’s the C- grade when you could’ve had an A if you’d done a bit more research. Though, in the case of Deadpool, that’s more of a D- given that it’s Deadpool.

If any character can take a bad trope and make it interesting or funny or ridiculous, it should be Deadpool. But, as it turns out, they weren’t even trying. They were literally writing this plot line completely straight, not even pausing to think about what they were doing, and now they’re doubling down on their decision. It is actually painfully reminiscent of the kill-your-queer girls problem TV has had, with all of the flimsiest excuses being offered that boils down to ‘we didn’t know what else to do with her, so we got her out of the way to make the characters we want to write stronger.’

And also this:

 

“We always had in our back pocket that we could always bring [Vanessa] back if necessary,” says Reese. “So, we ran with that. And maybe that’s a sexist thing. I don’t know. And maybe some women will have an issue with that. I don’t know. I don’t think that that’ll be a large concern, but it didn’t even really occur to us.”

That’s so dismissive. The male writers and directors didn’t think of it, so therefore it shouldn’t be a large concern? The fact that they didn’t stop to think of what they were doing is my only concern with this story.

I’m just so tired of men who aren’t even willing to try. Try writing women that are more than the trophy at the end of the movie. Try writing a relationship, even if it’s a bit of an inconvenience for you. Set a rule for yourselves – I will not kill love interests (since this will happen to male love interests as well, they’re just a much less common species in fiction) just to motivate another character. Trust me, I’ve been there too. And I’m a female. (I figured out a different, much better solution that actually made the story stronger, more interesting, and, interestingly enough, less cluttered.) We also need to stop mandating love interests in stories so that there’s more flexibility to just not write them if we’re not going to be good at them. Some stories are even much better off without love interests in the first place.

That isn’t to say I’m not glad that Vanessa is a character and that there’s a chance she’ll be back again in the future. Just, please, don’t lazily do what hundreds of writers before you have done just because it’s easy and lets you get to the fun bits faster. It’s boring. Deadpool should not be boring.

Rambles · Uncategorized

So, you hate Star Lord now.

So, if you didn’t hate Peter Quill before, you definitely hate him now. If you hated him before, well, Infinity War just drove the nail in deeper.

Isn’t he just the worst? Because of him, Thanos won and made Peter feel not so good and made Tony cry and took Steve’s boyfriend and made Okoye scream and – And it’s all Star Lord’s fault. They were literally right there! If he’d just waited five more seconds. Just five more seconds. That’s it!

And…well, let’s be real, we knew he didn’t have the fortitude to keep it together. Really, if Mantis had just kept her mouth shut, or if Nebula had grabbed him. She was standing right there after all, but all she did was avert her eyes!

Or what about Dr. Strange? He just handed the time stone over! Sure, without it Thanos could do plenty of damage, but with it he snapped his fingers! And don’t get me started on Team Cap, waiting soooo long to deal with the Soul stone – or how freaking absolutely useless Vision was throughout the whole movie? C’mon, you’re supposed to be the combination of Jarvis, an infinity stone, and a botched attempt at peace in our time. You gotta have more power than that.

main-qimg-0565c4f3725e5c0fbea95cf00eb972a4
“Peace in our times” – if peace means “easily knocked down and incapacitated from what is basically just a flesh wound for you.”

Oh, but how about Tony. If he’d just turned that stupid space ship around, they never would’ve been on Titan in the first place. They would’ve had the full force of all the Avengers, Wakanda, possibly the rest of Earths’ militaries, and two of the stones in their defense.

But, really, it was all Thor’s fault, wasn’t it? If he’d just gone for the head. But noooo he needed his revenge. Of course, he wouldn’t have needed to get revenge if Loki hadn’t been so stupid. Seriously, God of Mischief, you tried to shank Thanos? You know better!

If we want to get nit-picky, we could even get mad at Hulk. No, not Bruce. Specifically Hulk. “We have a Hulk!” – who is apparently easily traumatized when someone beats him. At least when times got tough our afraid-of-losing-control Bruce Banner put on a freaking Iron Man suit and kicked some butt while Hulky dearest was crying in his corner of the mind.

Actually, it’s probably easier to count the people who didn’t make some sort mistake that contributed to the snap. Bruce Banner put on his Avenger pants and brought his best to the fight. Peter Parker is also one, maybe. Who knows what would’ve happened if he’d listened to Tony and stayed on Earth though? There’s also, uhm…….Rocket? Rocket was pretty on point. He even got to be the emotional center for Thor. Point is, there were a lot of mistakes that led to Thanos winning. So why did we all flock to hating just Star Lord?

I admit it, when Okoye screamed was when I lost it, and in that moment I blamed Quill for my pain, just as many others clearly did. It didn’t matter that the logic in my mind was yelling ‘they have another movie! There’s a Spiderman 2! A Black Panther 2! They will return!!!’ Okoye screamed. Okoye. Yes yes I know for most people it was “I don’t feel so good” that got them, but for some reason Okoye was what got me.

It’s also probably not super fair to say we’re just hating Star Lord. People very quickly caught on to Thor’s little revenge mistake (and it didn’t hurt that Joe Russo told people to blame Thor). But there’s still a lot of jokes and rants that were made first, alongside a lot of people who are still more mad at Quill than Thor.

Through, Thor had kind of been simmering throughout this movie. For those who didn’t see Ragnarok, spoilers. But if you saw Infinity War you’ve already been spoiled a bit – Asgard went kabloom. No, that’s an understatement. Thor’s dad died in front of his eyes and his here-there-to unknown big sister came and destroyed his best friend (Mjolnir, obviously) and dumped him, albeit accidentally, on a planet where he was literally dragged into slavery by one of his own people. This all happened very much in short order, so he didn’t have time to deal with any of those emotions before he was forced into gladiatorial battle for his freedom. Oh, and his annoying little brother was watching all of this next to his captor. Then, when he did finally get free, he found out that all of his friends (the living, breathing kind) had been slaughtered and his people were probably going to be killed very soon too, so still no time to mourn while he has to go be a king. Except being a king turned out to mean blow up your childhood home. Well, apparently your home for the last 1,500 years. That’s a bit more than childhood. Sure, he made nice with Loki, so there’s that…except no. All those people he saved in blowing up his home, including Loki, well, they die.

And it all happens kind of quietly. Thor hasn’t really had an emotion that even resembled about it throughout either of the movies, up until it looks like he might cry a little with Rocket. That’s really in character for Thor – he hasn’t really shown sadness at all throughout the movies, though, apparently, he has used it for fashion inspiration.

redwoodriver-thegestianpoet-thegestianpoet-i-cant-believe-thor-wearing-arm-guards-30347939.png

There’s something about a stoic man quietly wearing his feelings that vibes with us in a way that a broken manchild screaming and making a scene just doesn’t. So when Thor went in for his revenge, I was rooting for him to get it. Not actively of course. But I wasn’t expecting Thanos to survive it. In retrospect, Thor clearly was. Thanos was right, he should’ve aimed for the head. As long as Thanos still had movement in his arm, he could go through with his plan. Thor knew this, and he missed on purpose. For his people, for his friends, and for his brother. So he could look into Thanos’ eyes and get his revenge. That was his way of mourning them. Every part of that moment is so somber and so sad.

It’s literally the exact opposite of Quill’s outburst and interruption of the almost successful fight that he’d just put his all into alongside Iron Man’s third of the movie. Star Lord had been fighting with them for several minutes before they got Thanos tied down, and they were right there, and he lost it and took their victory away. Thor…actively surrendered his. But quietly.

Ok, that was a lot about Thor, and there’s a lot of other characters to get through. So! Let’s go through the rest quickly here:

Hulk. I haven’t seen anyone blame Hulk, even though we can technically factor him in. He is stronger than the other humans and he’s just spent the last two years as a gladiator. Which could have made him stronger, or it could’ve made him complacent. After all, he did win every battle. We technically never really see him fail, up until Thanos thrashes him. And Thanos did thrash him. Poor Hulk, he was clearly traumatized. Well, that was why I’m not mad at him. I feel so bad for our green monster. Most other people seem to have been amused, which would also contribute as to why they aren’t blaming him. Plus, he wasn’t there, so he he couldn’t make a mistake. (Even though his not being there is what I’m counting as a contributing factor.)

Team Cap. Just the whole lot of them. Sure, it’s super sentimental we don’t let someone die without trying. I give Wanda a complete pass, since it can’t be easy being told you have to kill the man you’re in love with, though there have been a few arguments that she should’ve joined in the battle sooner. Besides that, these guys are easy to pass over in general. Thanos got the Time stone, so it literally wouldn’t matter when they shattered it. Unless they ground it into dust and scattered it’s ashes throughout the galaxy – and I mean went particle by particle sending it off in different directions (or, maybe just tossed it’s ashes into the sun), Thanos would’ve eventually put it back together anyway. Hell, even if they did toss it’s ashes into the sun he may still have found a way to put it back together. The Time stone does manipulate literal time after all. And oh we will get to that Time stone.

Vision and Loki. I put them together because they seem to have faced the same issue: Writing. Most people who do notice their oddities in this movie seem to be blaming the writers for failing these characters. Loki was also killed in the first ten minutes and Vision also kind of blended into the background a bit with so much happening to and around him but he didn’t interact much with it, spending half of his screen time on his back. There’s also that strong undercurrent of believers in the best Disney Prince having actually tricked us all (again) and that he had a bigger plan. Or maybe he just escaped. Though there are those leaked pictures from the next movie…

Mantis. It seems that she literally can’t help but shout out the emotions that she’s receiving from the person she’s got her hands on, apparently? Even if she doesn’t have that quirk, then it’s still clear that Ego didn’t raise her to have enough social knowledge to know that’s a bad idea. Mantis is still very much a child, regardless of how old she is, because she hasn’t spent a lot of time socializing with beings that aren’t Ego. Well, at least beings that aren’t Ego and weren’t killed by Ego. Her shortcoming in this regard is actually is more wrapped up in complaints about how she’s been written overall than in regards to her place in this story.

Nebula. No one seems to have actually realized that she was just standing there. Those who did note it are mad at her. So…this one depends on how much people actually paid attention. But, also, like Thor, it was quiet. She was very quiet about it and she didn’t actually get in the middle of a near-success.

Tony. Ah, Tony. His potential mistake came a long time before it’s payoff, and I think that’s the main reason most people don’t think of it. His choice to go to Titan came right about the end of the first act or beginning of the second act, and the fight with Thanos was in the third act. He literally took the Time stone straight to Thanos. Sure, he had the goal of stopping things then and there, but turning back, which was his initial plan, was always going to be the better option. On Earth, yes there would be more people in danger, but there would also be more people who could fight, and plenty more people he knew could fight. Even if he was reluctant to call Steve, Steve does exist. Bucky is a similar super soldier, and there’s Wanda and Vision and Black Panther and Ant Man and Hawkeye (even if they didn’t show up and probably weren’t even called, Tony might’ve called them) and…well, it’s a long list. A lot of people to protect the Time stone together. And the Soul stone. They could’ve protected both at once. Though that is also a fault, with two stones side-by-side, and they didn’t know that was pointless anyway. Thor hadn’t shown up yet to say ‘oh yeah he got the stone that lets him portal around the galaxy at will.’ Anyway you slice it, though, it’s a bad idea to just take an Infinity Stone straight to the guy who’s collecting them.

Lastly, Doctor Strange. I told you we’d get back to that Time stone. After Quill and Thor, he’s the third most hated on character by the end of the movie. The reason he isn’t the top hated is probably because he flat out told us that there’s one ‘winning’ timeline, and after that point it only makes sense that he’d follow that timeline as closely as possible. This even explains why he didn’t just chop Thanos’ arm off like we’re shown early in the movie can easily be done. He comes in with his built in ‘don’t hate the player, hate the game!’ argument as he blows away in the wind of Titan. I’m still mad at him though.

So…with all those mistakes, why is Quill the one we flock to? And why not, as Chris Pratt noted, just directly blame Thanos for what Thanos did?

Well, that last question is easy. Thanos is the bad guy. Bad guys are gonna do bad things. Thanos did exactly what we expected of him. But we also expected the heroes to stop him, and they didn’t. And the loudest, most literally in-your-face of them was Quill. The gauntlet was almost off, if he’d just stayed back for five more seconds it all would’ve been over. Thanos would’ve lost.

I know I’m still have…frustrated feelings towards Quill. (They were right there!) But I also sincerely appreciate him in this moment. He’s so human in all the best ways, but that also means he’s human in the worst ways. 

Quill promised Gamora he would kill her if it came to it, and he hesitated in the moment but he was actually going to do it, but then it didn’t work. So he failed her. Then Thanos took her and killed her while he was trying to save her and Thanos got the very thing she was trying to prevent him from getting. So Quill double failed her.

He’s also had a history of being rather immature, even though he’s grown, because a pretty cruddy childhood that included the watching his mom die (and he even refused to hold her hand as she did so!), guilt, and then abuse at the hands of people he saw as his abductors who then raised him is more than enough to stunt development. Yeah, Yondu cared about him, clearly a lot, but that doesn’t excuse how terrified he was as a kid. He definitely took some of those ‘jokes’ completely seriously. And when was the last time someone told him that they loved him? Besides Gamora. Oh yeah, Gamora had also just told him that she loved him. That had happened.

guardians-of-the-galaxy-star-lord-gamora-wallpaper-230201-1280x0jpg.jpeg
Let’s see you keep your cool after all that.

So bundle all that up and, well, let’s just say it wouldn’t be in character for him to do anything but punch Thanos in the face.

The immaturity is a reason why he’s hard to like most of the time, but it’s also what makes him great. I especially love how his temper tantrums are responded to correctly, with people being mad at him when he acts up, making it clear that while the hero is immature, his immaturity isn’t heroic. The same thing happens here.

Marvel characters are all quite flawed, emotional beings. That’s kind of what Marvel is famous for – writing characters that are mostly mirrors of us, but with powers. Take Tony, our next closest character on the immaturity level. At least, at his outset. He was a playboy and he didn’t care who died from his inventions as long as he got all the monies. Actually, it seemed he cared a lot more for the attention, which is somehow even worse (he didn’t care who suffered as long as the whole world was watching him sounds kind of, well, familiar). Then, once he was past that phase, he still got drunk and half destroyed his house fighting with his bestie. And he’s come so far, but he’s also very aware of who he was at all times, with his mistakes constantly jumping up in his face (hence why he was such a huge advocate for signing in Civil War). Those accords were very clearly a bad idea, and it looks like the MCU wants us to see them as bad too given how the military attempted to tell Rhodey no only for him to say screw you, welcome back to the Avengers, Cap. But they made Tony feel that there was a safety on whatever was spiraling, so he signed them.

Bruce is afraid of himself, Thor is bottling all his loss and apparently braiding it into his hair so he doesn’t have to let it out, Cap didn’t have the guts to be honest with Tony about what happened to the Starks. Scott is a criminal trying to be good but keeps ending up on the wrong side of the law (and, yes, it’s not always because the law is right, but he’s still been in jail the most). Peter Parker wants to impress Tony and as such almost gets a lot of people killed (or at least wet with a lot of property damage) trying to prove himself. Everyone makes huge mistakes because they can’t handle their emotions. They just do it more quietly. And, well, at less inopportune times. Dropping a country out of the sky or even just New York are bad things, but they aren’t half the galaxy is now dust bad. And what Quill did definitely tops all of their mistakes combined. But he is human, and he is in an absolutely insane situation, and he just lost the first person to love him since he was a child…well, the first person who loved him and didn’t abuse him in that love.

Yondu is his own topic.